North Korea has carried out its sixth and most advanced nuclear test yet, claiming to have tested a hydrogen bomb that is small enough to be mounted on a long-range missile. It is certain to provoke international condemnation.
The test, which happened at 12 p.m. local time on Sunday, was carried out at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Hamgyong province, which is where all five of the country’s previous nuclear tests have also taken place.
The test came just hours after North Korea claimed to have succeeded in developing a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, a significant development if proven to be true. North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute said it had successfully tested the miniaturized device during Sunday’s test.
“The H-bomb test was carried out to examine and confirm the accuracy and credibility of the power control technology and internal structural design newly introduced into manufacturing H-bomb to be placed at the payload of the ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile,” the institute said.
While foreign governments and experts could not immediately confirm whether North Korea had in fact carried out a test of a hydrogen bomb, seismic readings indicate that Sunday’s test was far more powerful than previous detonations.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the detonation had a magnitude of 6.3, compared to 5.3 from the North’s nuclear test in September 2016. A senior South Korean lawmaker told the Yonhap news agency that the device is estimated to have had a yield of about 100 kilotons, or four to five times stronger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
The nuclear test is certain to provoke international condemnation and a new round of sanctions, especially in light of North Korea’s rapidly advancing missile program. In July, North Korea test-fired two long-range missiles which were theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, responding to Sunday’s test, said North Korea should face the “strongest punishment” for its latest action. Moon’s security adviser said South Korea would push for the most powerful UN sanctions yet to “completely” isolate the North.
China’s foreign ministry also condemned the nuclear test and called on North Korea to avoid taking any “wrong action.” There was no immediate reports from the United States government and media reports said no response was expected until later on Sunday.
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